Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Improbable Faith

I'm going to be posting a series of thoughts and reflections on our recent trip to the Philippines with our youth group. This one is in the form of a devotional for our church prayer newsletter that goes out to our "e partners in prayer".

Improbable Faith

Scripture Reading: James 5: 13-20,

It's been quite a week for our AIC family. Unbeknownst to me most of the time I was in the Phillippines with our youth, Pastor Ed was undergoing major eye surgery. Meanwhile, Pastor Aris and family are reconnecting with their families, also in the Philippines. Others in our church are preparing for, or have already departed for journeys of different purposes, lengths, and destinations. More families are readying themselves for missions or service trips.

Any way you look at it, while there is a perception that everything slows down over the summer, reality says that's not the case. Having worked with students for the majority of my time in full time ministry, summer always means some type of journey. This summer, it was the Philippines, then in a couple of weeks, it will be the States. The journeys of our lives never stop, do they?

On the Sunday before we were to leave for Davao, I found out that there was a fairly significant problem with one of our student's plane tickets. The name was incorrect, meaning, without quick action, he would not be allowed to board the plane.

Before anyone could say go, I was off. I first tried calling our travel agent, then someone else I thought could help, then finally, I was able to reach the office of the Philippine Airlines. Their news was not at all encouraging. I was told we would have to rebook the ticket, or just buy a new one, two answers I certainly did not want to hear.

I knew that Monday, the 2nd of July was a holiday so I would not be able to reach our travel agent to rebook the ticket with the correct name. Even before our trip began, we were already facing a crisis. Personally, this was becoming a crisis of faith. I was given a choice. I could wait until we arrived at the airport the next morning and beg the airline to help, or I could go ahead and purchase a new ticket online so that there would be absolutely no problems the next day. In my heart, I felt like I should step back and just wait; in my mind, I decided to begin the booking process of a new ticket. The process was almost fully completed when Melissa walked by and asked what I was doing. I explained it to her, she looked at me with a puzzled look and simply said, "Didn't we just pray about this? Don't you have any faith?"

There are those moments in our lives where the conviction of the Holy Spirit can feel like a punch in the stomach. In this case, that conviction came from the words of my wonderful wife, "Don't you have any faith?" The worst part was, when I have studied spiritual gifts, it has always come up that I have the gift of faith. Apparently I haven't been using my gifts.

In that brief moment of humiliation and conviction, my mind was drawn to the numerous times of Christ challenging His disciples with 4 words: "You of little faith". That was me! I was the "you of little faith". If I had just prayed about this situation, why was I trying so quickly to solve the problem for God? The answer was all too clear; I wasn't trusting Him.

When we enter into a relationship with God in prayer, too often we do so with a one sided agenda. Too often we ask God for things that we're not really expecting Him to handle. Or, we say we need His help but in our minds add the post script, just as long as it's on our terms. That doesn't seem to fit with the instructions James gives us on prayer. He calls us to call on the name of the Lord, believe in Him, and trust that God will answer, forgive, heal, and work out perfectly, according to His perfect will.

Prayer is a sacred privilege for Christ followers. It's a privilege that I too often take for granted. I'm embarrassed to have to write what little faith I had as I prayed over this situation. As I look back, it's even worse because I see how small an issue it really was. We arrived at the airport, got in line, talked to one lady, found proof of the correct name, and all was taken care of. It was that simple. I felt like a fool. I had no faith.

Even more, my lack of faith was shown through again. I had asked each of our students to be prepared to share their testimonies at different points in the week. When it came time for the student that almost didn't make it to share, God used his words in such powerful ways that I believe they will have an impact for years to come. Had I purchased that ticket on my own, that young man wouldn't have seen God work a miracle and may not have shared his story. I have so little faith.

May this day be a day of prayers of great faith. We do not know how God will answer, and that's okay. Our responsibility is to approach Him with prayers of faith, believing, knowing, and trusting that He is working, that He is Sovereign and will answer in His perfect way. Summer is a season of journeys, not the least of which is the journey of faith.

May God bless your prayers of great faith.



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